Local, Independant and Effective

Share ideas to influence the future - submissions due 15 September

Posted September 09, 2017


One week remains for anyone with an idea to influence the future of rural and regional Australia.

From high school kids to business owners, professionals to retirees, people are full of great ideas and solutions for the big issues. Rail, the environment, education, employment, NBN and mobile phones – they get how connected it all is. They know what's good for the community and how to engage with people and local knowledge to come up with effective solutions.
This is a call to all those people. Now’s the time send those ideas to the Parliament’s inquiry into regional development and decentralisation. 

What’s working? What could work better? What role does the government have in bringing it together?

Sporting and service clubs, Scouts, Guides and community groups, health and industry peak bodies, business groups - everyone has something of value to add to this conversation. Public hearing s will follow, with one in Wodonga in October. People wanting to speak at the hearing need to make a submission.

Properly planned and integrated regional development is vital. The work of the Albury Wodonga Development Corporation gives special insight into why. With around 180,000 people combined and some 8,000 business, the area’s local gross regional product is estimated at around $5.9 billion. There are two universities, two TAFEs, an airport, a hospital, and established freight and manufacturing industries.

None of this is an accident. What got us here is local connections and knowledge teamed with a big vision. The community was designed by people who cared. We know how to do it and forty years ago we began doing it really well.
It was this big picture thinking and planning that brought me home in 1978. The social and environmental planning, training, jobs, lifestyle and community opportunities made it a very attractive prospect. The community is still reaping the benefits. I want to build those same opportunities for the next generation.

Challenges remain for the border, in meeting workforce demand, pressures on agribusiness, social, environmental and cross border issues.

My hope is that everyone will make the most of this opportunity to look at the big picture of rural and regional Australia and have a say in its long term future.

Having a say can be as easy as writing a letter. To help, the inquiry committee has released an issues paper that sets out the major areas it will cover: best practice approaches to regional development; decentralisation of Commonwealth entities; and corporate decentralisation.

Congratulations to Wodonga TAFE, Alpine Health, Rural Australians Against Refugees and Northern Victorian Refugee Council who have put in submissions. Young people across Indi have been participating in the NESAY YouthForIndi project gathering feedback. Entries to the YouthForIndi project close on 11 September www.nesay.com.au/youthforindi

Bipartisan support made the difference for the twin cities’ development. While Gough Whitlam was a driving force, Malcolm Fraser picked it up and he supported it. Earlier this week in Parliament I spoke about how bipartisan support for this inquiry must continue if we’re to have long term sustainable development. As an independent on the committee, I’m so pleased it has released an issues paper with such strong cross-party support.

Since before my election people have been saying to me: “The government needs to pay attention to the people in regional Australia, because we understand what’s needed.” Here is an opportunity to be heard. Get your skates on, because submissions close 15 September. 

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